Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dell Inspiron Mini 9 and NaNoWriMo

My good friends at Dell hooked me up with an Inspiron Mini 9 laptop/netbook to use for participating in and blogging about the National Novel Writing Month. It is a pretty sweet, tiny machine.


My wife wants to use it all the time! I'm going to have to distract her somehow during November. She seriously is crazy about it. It came with Ubuntu Linux on it, but I swapped out the 4GB flash disk for the 16GB flash disk that comes with the high-end XP Pro config. I also factory-installed XP and loaded Word. Nothing against Linux, per se, but I want to use Word for this project.


The Mini 9 is sturdier than I expected, and I like the fit and finish. It comes in black and white, and this one is white, which looks pretty nice.

The drawback? I'm a touch-typist, and I'm a little concerned about the keyboard. To get everything in a package that small, some of the keys had to be reduced. This may not be a problem for many, but I am using it in what amounts to a typing contest (of wills), and my large hands and I will soldier on and report back how it goes.

After a week of configuring it, hooking it up to wireless, browsing, and email, I like it. It feels solid and the keyboard is sturdy, albeit cramped on the sides. It is the smallest laptop I've ever used. Actually, I love that it is so small when I'm carrying it around, and I can use something other than my huge XPS backpack.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

RSS Feed for comments

I'm not sure how I can merge these two feeds, if it's even possible, but by clicking here you can subscribe to my blog's comments feed.

If anybody has done this with blogspot, let me know.

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Behind the scenes Autodesk meeting

So Autodesk buying Softimage is already old news. What everybody wants to know is how they came to that decision. My secret sources have delivered!

The subtitles are great, and I loved every joke. This video has seen its share of resubtitling, too. The scene is from the movie Downfall.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Autodesk acquires Softimage??????

I'm browsing around some random graphics sites, when I see a news item. It seems fake, but I follow it, look around, and it looks legit!

Autodesk Signs Agreement with Avid Technology to Acquire Softimage

Whoa! This may not be a big deal to you, but it is crazy in the 3D Graphics world.

In October 2005, Autodesk, home of AutoCAD and more important to this discussion, 3D Studio MAX (a 3D graphics package) acquired it's biggest competitor, Maya.

Now it looks like one more competitor is being pulled under the Autodesk umbrella - Softimage.

Who is left to compete against Autodesk products now? Newtek Lightwave? Luxology modo? Maxon Cinema 4D? Side Effects Houdini? Anybody?

I'll have to try and track down some people to talk to about this - it's crazy!

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Krause Springs

We've been trying to go camping now that the weather has gotten colder, and our first choice was Inks Lake State Park, as we've gone there for day trips and my parents have taken me there as a child.

As luck had it, Inks Lake was booked through the rest of the year! At least, campsites with a fire ring on the lake side were booked. If we wanted to hike in ~1.5 miles schlepping our gear to a primitive site, there were a few openings.

No thanks.

We had heard about Krause Springs and had wanted to check out the place just as a swimming hole, and found out they had campsites. I called them up and spoke with Elton Krause himself, and when I asked him about reservations, he said just come up, drive around until you find a spot you like and pitch your tent!


We left later than we planned, and had to make a few stops on the way, and got to the campsite a few minutes before dark. We used our headlights to help us set the tent (thanks Erika and Ty!) up and managed to drain our battery. Some nice neighbors help us jump it the next day.

Our first night went without a hitch and we woke up to masses of Monarch butterflies gathered in the trees right over our heads.


One of the other campers mentioned that they were migrating, and I wasn't sure about this (but I had no reasonable explanation otherwise - I guess it is the skeptic in me), so when we returned, I  consulted my pal Google. Armed with the knowledge that Spicewood, TX, is roughly at Latitude 30, I consulted this migration schedule. Zut alors! The time matched!

My wife found a Coleman cooking stove thing at a garage sale for $5 (normally ~$50) and it worked like a charm! It uses a small thermos-sized canister of propane, and we had a blast cooking outside. I had to go the instant coffee route, as I didn't have a chance to look around for a suitable camp coffeepot or get my French Press action going, but roughing it is roughing it!


Krause Springs has some amazing natural rock formations, with grottos, waterfalls, rockwalls teeming with squirrels, HUGE cypress trees, a natural spring that feeds into a lagoon/swimming hole, etc. We went exploring and ran out of space on our 1GB photo card.

DSC06921 DSC06931 DSC06933 DSC06946

I also took a panoramic shot of where we camped. We were in the middle spot - under the RV hookups and above the primitive area.


The right-most spot in the panorama was filled with Cub Scouts from Saturday to Sunday. We were there the weekend of the Red River Shootout (Texas vs OU) and one guy was camping in our area I noticed what I thought was football sounds coming from his area. I investigated and he had stretched over 200 feet of extension cord from a table outside his tent to a power outlet in the RV hookup area to watch the game. Roughing it indeed!

They also have a butterfly garden with some wind chimes bigger than I am, plus a swimming pool that is fed directly from the spring. Let me tell you - it was cold! I eased in to my waist before I took the plunge, but my wife was brave enough to dive in. It's brisk!

We had a fantastic time, and will definitely go back. In fact, we are trying to work out a November camp date. The kids loved it, we loved it, and it's cheaper and closer than Inks Lake. Win-win!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Speaking of gaming....

You know what I like about gaming around Halloween?


Once the box of decorations come out, miniatures abound! I'm leading my son through an adventure, and when the goblins aren't around, he doesn't mind hacking and slashing through some seasonal creepy-crawlies.

Superheroes from spam

So I got an interesting sounding spam email a while back, and either these spammers are also trying to get me to run a Mutants & Masterminds supers campaign, or they are randomizing their subjects to try to sneak in under my radar!


I think it is the latter.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

New recipe for roasted stuffed jalapenos

My parents got me a jalapeno roaster as a gift, and I have really been giving it a workout.  You basically core jalapenos, stuff them with, uh, stuff, and roast them for an hour.

I usually try to take all the seeds and membranes out, as some people still think they are pretty hot without them, but feel free to leave an amount in that suits your tastebuds.

I've been known to top them with pieces of bacon but I've not been doing this lately.

My most recent recipe is to start stuffing them with (American) Neufchatel cheese, then shredded pork barbecue (from HEB), and topped with apple or pineapple chunks.


I'm still working on coming up with something for roasting dogs. I feel like it needs to be more complicated than just putting them on a grill!


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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

National Novel Writing Month

I may have mentioned it here before, but next month, November, is National Novel Writing Month.


There is a large website and community dedicated to working on what I've wanted to do for a while - write.

What it boils down to is taking thirty days to write 50,000 words. While this might seem like a Herculean task, it's really more of a sprint than a marathon.

The goal isn't to have a finished, highly polished manuscript that will pop up on Oprah's radar on December 1. It's more about accomplishing a task that many, many people think and talk about, but don't do it. It's quantity over quality, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

What if you only make it halfway - 25,000 words of ridiculous characters, contrived settings, and a plot more reminiscent of an after-school special than the next great American novel?

Guess what? You just wrote 25,000 words you used to only talk about.

I put a NaNoWriMo widget (which will track my word count) above my profile, and I've joined the Austin region group, so expect more pictures and thrilling blog entries about my progress. I talked the talk last year, so I'm hoping to do a lot of walking this year. Drop me a line if you sign up!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

VP debates flubs

I'm sure there will be a lot of this stuff on YouTube, but at ~8:35pm CST, Gov. Palin referenced "Senator Obama and Senator OBiden."


We had to rewind it just to make sure, but it's there.